Frequently Asked Questions
These Q and A’s were developed from questions submitted from the Converse community in response to the Fall 2020 early implementation of the co-ed undergraduate residential component at Converse. Please submit your feedback and inquries here.
Will the graduating class of 2021 be graduating from Converse College or Converse University? Converse College. The name change from Converse College to Converse University will occur as originally planned on July 1, 2021.
Why exactly was the decision to go co-ed in fall 2020 made? And if it was because of a problem of some sort, what alternatives were considered, and why were they not chosen instead? The unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic has changed the plans of many students and families, including those in the Upstate. In particular, regional students may need a more affordable option and may desire to remain closer to home. Converse recognizes that the current situation is anticipated to cause a 10-20% decline in enrollment across higher education and determined that this early adoption will help ensure a thriving future for Converse and for its current and future students.
The decision to accelerate the date to admit undergraduate residential men was made to open Converse to as many qualified students as possible so that they have the opportunity to learn from our dynamic faculty and be a part of the distinctive programming that Converse has to offer. Admitting males will also provide valuable input opportunities for our transition committees as we work to ensure a smooth transition where each student is supported and placed on a path for success.
How will housing work? Will floors be divided in resident halls? We will either use one building or one floor. We will make the final call based on numbers. If we have less than 10 residential males a floor may be most appropriate. In either situation, bathrooms will remain single-gender.
What security implications will be put in place to ensure the safety of all students? Our fully-staffed campus safety team, which includes three female officers, is on-call 24/7 to ensure the safety of our students. We are looking at implementing additional measures, including a mobile app that will help provide an additional layer of safety for our campus community.
How will the colleges, specifically the women’s college, be set up? Will current and incoming students have to make the choice in registering for the women’s college before term begins? We will address this question over the summer, with our transition committees helping to guide us with this decision. The women’s college will be developed over the course of this year and will be implemented along with the true model change in Fall 2021.
What will class sizes look like? Class sizes will depend on how many students enroll for the fall. Across the nation, colleges and universities are anticipating that the COVID-19 pandemic will affect enrollment size – down 10-20%.
How will traditions work with the male students? As we examine the transition areas in greater depth, we will provide additional guidance on how traditions will work with the male students.
Will athletics also become coed? Yes, beginning with the 2021-2022 academic year. The men’s teams currently planned at Converse for the 2021-2022 academic year include basketball, cross country, soccer, tennis, indoor and outdoor track and field, and volleyball. These men’s teams will be in addition to the thirteen NCAA Division II and IHSA women’s teams currently a part of Converse’s athletic team roster.
Will Title IX sports regulations be met? If so, is recruiting for sports starting immediately? We will ensure that Title IX sports regulations are met. Recruiting for the men’s athletics teams will begin in late summer (August) 2020. Our men’s athletics teams will commence gameplay in the 2021-2022 academic year.
We will not need to begin male athletic teams early with this early implementation. We may see a few male student-athletes in individual athletics like equestrian or track and field and cross country.
May 11, 2020 Update
This week marks our last week in the spring 2020 term, and we are celebrating the accomplishments of our 201 undergraduate and 133 graduate school graduates this Saturday, May 16. While our commencement ceremony will be virtual for the first time in our college’s history, we are looking forward to this special time with our graduates and their families. We wish them all the best as they embark on new paths and we hope to see them back in August when we are planning to hold a traditional ceremony, circumstances allowing. We encourage our new graduates to remember that you are now woven into the tapestry of Converse’s history, and we hope that you will continue to be engaged with Converse so that you can be a part of its future, as well.
It has been about three months since our February announcement to expand our undergraduate residential program from single-gender to co-educational, and to change our name from college to university while maintaining the Converse College for Women and expanding our international school into an international college, both under the university umbrella.
So much has happened between February and now, and the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted our lives globally, nationally, locally, and personally. While it has also impacted the timeline of our model change implementation, we remain focused on forward progress as we address our transition plans, strategically and thoughtfully upholding a vibrant future for Converse.
Fall 2020 Implementation of Co-Educational Component
First and foremost, we announced on April 28 that the Converse Board of Trustees unanimously approved the admission of men into the undergraduate residential cohort beginning in fall 2020, one year earlier than anticipated. This decision was made because of the pandemic and the expressed desire by people in the Upstate to stay closer to home and to have more affordable higher education options. We wanted to be a part of the solution by making Converse available to as many qualified students as possible, and by doing so, to ensure strong enrollment and fiscal strength for Converse. This decision provides all qualified students the opportunity to learn from our dynamic faculty and be a part of the distinctive programming that Converse has to offer.
While we are accelerating the timeline for admitting men into our undergraduate residential cohort, we are still taking careful steps to ensure that we implement these changes appropriately. We view this as a pilot program for the 2020-2021 academic year, and we anticipate that our undergraduate enrollment numbers will reflect a smaller male cohort than we would experience with a fall 2021 implementation.
Some of you have asked whether this change affects the timeline for our name change. It does not. Our class of 2021 will be graduating from Converse College, as the name change from Converse College to Converse University will occur as originally planned on July 1, 2021.
Converse College for Women
We are thrilled to announce that Dr. Chandra Owenby Hopkins has been named as our first Dean of the Converse College for Women, effective July 1, 2021. Over the next year, Dr. Hopkins will be working with the student experience transition committee to develop the programming and structure of our women’s college under the Converse University umbrella. She will be continuing her faculty responsibilities in the Theatre department while serving as Dean. Please join me in congratulating Dr. Hopkins in her new role. You can read more about her experience and responsibilities here.
Committees formed in February were charged with thoughtfully and deliberately addressing the transition in areas such as traditions, athletics, student life, housing and security, classroom environment, communications, and more, and their work will continue. Members of these committees represent Converse students, faculty, staff, alumnae/i, Board of Trustees, and community members.
The four committees are: Classroom Environment; Alumni, Community, and Donor Communications and Relations; Recruitment and Admissions Communications; and Student Experience. The committees will continue to examine the transition areas in-depth and will be meeting over the summer and through next year, providing reports and recommendations to the senior administrators at Converse and to the Board of Trustees.
As we accelerate the admission of men to our undergraduate cohort, the committees will evaluate these areas as they apply to fall 2020 and make thoughtful adjustments as needed. Admitting males will also provide valuable input opportunities for our transition committees.
We do not plan to begin men’s athletic teams early with the implementation of the fall 2020 co-educational cohort, although we may see a few male student-athletes in individual athletics attend Converse in the 2020-2021 academic year. Recruitment for the men’s athletics teams will begin in late summer 2020. Our men’s athletics teams will commence gameplay as originally planned, in the 2021-2022 academic year.
The men’s teams currently planned at Converse for the 2021-2022 academic year include basketball, cross country, equestrian, soccer, tennis, indoor and outdoor track and field, and volleyball.
As the athletics department ramps up recruitment efforts, we are in the process of hiring coaches for several sports. A few of those important hires have already been made and Converse announced that Ryan Saunders will be leading our inaugural men’s basketball team; Alex Poda will be coaching both men’s and women’s tennis; and, Randy Loggins has been selected as our new Deputy Director of Athletics. Our athletics department will be making additional hiring announcements over the summer as they promote and select coaches to lead our Valkyries teams.
On May 13, 2020 Converse announced its inaugural Esports athletics program, with the anticipation that the full Valkyries Esports team will be recruited for fall 2021. You can read more about the Esports program here.
March 9, 2020 Update
We are beginning formal efforts to thoughtfully and deliberately address the model change transition in areas such as student experience and events, athletics, traditions, recruiting, communications and more.
In the week following the announcement, we hosted a lunchtime ice cream social along with Provost Barker, Dean Hopkins, and our senior administrators to answer questions from students and to discuss the model change. There we discussed our next steps and students learned how they can play a role in the next stage as we move Converse forward.
Four committees have been formed to examine transition areas in depth. These committees will begin meeting during the month of March, over the summer and through next year as needed. They will provide reports and recommendations to the senior administrators at Converse and to the Board of Trustees.
The four committees are: Student Experience; Student Recruitment, Admissions, and Communications; Alumni, Donor, and Community Relations and Communications; and the Classroom Experience. Members of these committees represent Converse students, faculty, staff, alumnae/i, Board of Trustees and community members.
The Student Experience Committee will focus on a variety of issues that will affect the experiences our students have on campus. This committee will keep in mind not only the experiences of Converse’s traditional students, but also non-traditional, graduate, and the new population of students who will be joining Converse in 2021. This Committee will evaluate the following important topics:
- Programming and living space for the Women’s College
- Programming for the International College
- Housing assignments
- Student experiences and activities to promote unity
- Athletics changes
- Policy changes that will be needed
- A review of facilities to ensure they are inviting and adequate for all
- Safety policies and practices to promote a general sense of well-being and to reduce criminal activity and Title IX incidents
- Student programming to promote a healthy campus culture and student retention and success
Student Recruitment, Admissions, and Communications
The Student Recruitment, Admissions, and Communications Committee will focus on the best ways to recruit and encourage matriculation and enrollment by an expanding demographic of students. It will provide feedback on recommendations from the branding consultants as they relate to these groups. This committee will consult with the above-noted Student Experiences Committee to ensure that future marketing and communications consider the recommendations that the committee makes that may impact housing, programming, and student experiences.
Alumni, Donor, and Community Relations and Communications
The Alumni, Donor, and Community Relations and Communications Committee will focus on the best way for Converse to communicate with alumni, donors, and the community and how to best grow and strengthen our relationship with each group to ensure that they continue to feel informed and connected to Converse. This committee will also consider how to structure events to encourage alumnae engagement and future fundraising efforts. Finally, this committee will also provide feedback on recommendations from the branding consultants as they relate to these groups.
The Classroom Experience Committee will focus on research addressing best practices to ensure that the classroom experience is encouraging and inclusive. The goal is for each student to feel equally valued and empowered to participate, and to ensure that students have the specific tools they need to be successful.
We are committed to our plan to develop a vibrant community, expand upon our tradition of academic excellence, and work together to ensure a strong and sustainable future for Converse as we address the transition over this next year. We encourage you to continue to share your thoughts via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or www.converse.edu/feedback.